Ben H. Williams

1877 - 1964

“Born in a slate-quarry town in Maine, Ben Williams (1877-1964) started working at the age of eleven in his older brother's print shop in Nebraska. As Williams wrote: "The Western farmers' revolt was in full swing with the Farmers' Alliance. My brother supported the movement in his paper, and as a result, got all kinds of radical publications on exchange. Before my twelfth year, I was introduced to all the social philosophies — anarchism, socialism, communism, direct legislation, and Alliance programs ... absorbing the idea of a New America and a better world" (letter to J.L.K., October 24, 1963).

“Williams worked his way through college by typesetting and teaching in a one-room schoolhouse, joined the Socialist Labor Party in 1904, and became one of its lecturers and publicists. He became an I.W.W. member in 1905, shortly after the founding convention, and started soap-boxing and organizing for the One Big Union idea. He edited several issues of the I.W.W. Industrial Union Bulletin before it failed for lack of funds in 1909. When a new I.W.W. publication, Solidarity, started in Newcastle, Pennsylvania, during the 1909 McKees Rocks steelworkers' strike, Williams became its typesetter and then editor, continuing at this until 1917. Williams who read French fluently, translated many articles by French radicals and published them in Solidarity during this period.”

— Joyce L. Kornbluh in Rebel Voices: An IWW Anthology (New and expanded version, Charles H. Kerr Publishing Company, 1998), p. 51.

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